Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, March 30, 2015
Big Monday for the Big Ten. When commish Jim Delany went to bed last night, his league had two Final Four teams for the first time since 2005. (This after Ohio State won the football national title.)
Wisconsin punched its second ticket in a row to the Final Four on Saturday with a win vs. Arizona. Up next: No. 1 Kentucky, which is chasing history with a 38-0 mark. The Wildcats beat the Badgers by one point in the Final Four last year. But Wisconsin could upset Kentucky this time around. How? Two reasons: Sam Dekker and Frank Kaminsky.
Michigan State is off to the Final Four for the first time since 2010 and the seventh time in Tom Izzo?s tenure after dumping Louisville on Sunday. This is a surprise, as MSU is a No. 7 seed that has been forged by its journey-a journey that at one time didn?t appear to include the Big Dance. Amazing.
With the Final Four here, let?s reminisce a bit with ex-Michigan stud Jalen Rose. He says the Fab Five?s 1993 Final Four win over Kentucky was its biggest ever.
Mlive.com notes that the victory sent Michigan to the title game for the second year in a row. It also featured Rose helping the Wolverines overcome a 78-75 deficit with 1:12 left in OT. The sophomore stripped the ball from Kentucky's Travis Ford with 21 seconds left and turned the steal into two crucial free throws on the other end.
"Those shots gave us a three-point lead that we wouldn't relinquish," Rose wrote. "By my estimation, beating Kentucky in the Final Four was the Fab Five's biggest victory ever."
If you are an aspiring tight end, you may want to go to Michigan.
Nick Baumgardner of Mlive.com says Jim Harbaugh's version of the West Coast offense is tight end-heavy. Tight ends are moved around the field to create unique mismatches, and more often than not, it's worked. And so it's no surprise that a big part of Harbaugh's plan at Michigan is to gather as many capable tight ends as possible in an effort to recreate what he had at Stanford.
Check this out: Stanford sent tight end Jim Dray into the draft in 2010, Coby Fleener in 2012 and both Zac Ertz and Levine Toilolo in 2013 — of those players were either coached or recruited by Harbaugh.
Stories like this are fun: What if Lou Holtz had replaced Woody Hayes at Ohio State back in the late-1970s? Well, listen to Holtz.
At 20-3-1 in his first two seasons at Arkansas, Holtz had a 66-35-4 record in nine years as a head coach and was approaching his 42nd birthday. Holtz said OSU athletic director Hugh Hindman called. But Holtz didn?t want to have to interview for the spot. I wonder how history would have changed if Holtz had gotten the job over Earle Bruce?
Indiana recently passes a ?religious freedom? law. And David Jones of Pennlive.com thinks it?s bound to hurt the Final Four?s most loving home.
The QB derby at Rutgers will be interesting. When the school released its spring depth chart, three players were listed as co-starters– Redshirt sophomore Chris Laviano, redshirt sophomore Hayden Rettig and redshirt freshman Giovanni Rescigno.
Dan Duggan of NJ.com says Laviano and Rettig figure to get the most spring-camp repetitions as Flood tries to sort out the question of who will replace graduated four-year starter Gary Nova.
"I think it's going to be something that's going to play out over time," Flood said.
The spring game is April 24.
Speaking of QBs, here?s a good breakdown of Nebraska?s situation from Omaha.com.
Tommy Armstrong is a two-year starter and one of the leaders in the locker room. Players like him. He has cachet with them. So even if he doesn?t have the most enticing skill set in the program, he still has the most experience (by far) and some clear playmaking abilities.
What?s it all mean? It would be a monumental shock if Armstrong wasn?t the ?guy? in Lincoln this fall.
Is this the year Kevin Wilson pushes Indiana through to its first bowl since 2007? Perhaps. If so, the journey begins in spring practice. Here are four things to watch in Hoosier spring drills. Thanks, IndyStar.com!
I will be watching to see how QB Nate Sudfeld looks after injury wrecked his 2014 season. And is the defense improving?
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|